Spider-Man is back in the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
A lot of fans around the world have been rejoicing and shouting because Spider-Man is back home. Many have been posting memes celebrating the occasion of Peter Parker’s future presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is a joyous moment indeed, but as any big fan of the web-head can tell you; it’s been a hard road back home.
Directed by Marc Webb and starring Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man opened in 2012 to middling yet optimistic reviews from fans and critics alike and audiences responded to new portrayals of the iconic character to the tune of $750 million worldwide.
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A number lower than any other previous Spider-Man films, but Sony was optimistic that results would increase with a bigger sequel. A bigger sequel, with a bigger budget that would open the doors to a bigger universe for Spider-Man to swing around in… Alone.
That bigger film was 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a mixed-bag of a film that offered some of the best and worst moments of Peter Parker on screen. But mostly it fell short of Sony’s monetary aspirations and effectively impaled any momentum for another entry in the rebooted series, let alone the desire to see any of the planned spin-offs that were in the works.
Marvel’s Avengers was released May 4th, 2012, its financial success proved that Marvel Studios plans to bring together different worlds and heroes were a masterstroke. It currently owns the second biggest opening weekend of all time ($205 Million) and sits third atop the list of highest grossing films of all time with a whopping $1.5 Billion in worldwide gross. It did many things for the Marvel Cinematic Universe; like solidifying Robert Downey Jr. as biggest actor on the planet, making former B-list characters like Thor and Captain America bankable solo stars, reinvigorated the Hulk. It also made Marvel so infallible as a film studio that their biggest film since The Avengers itself was a comedic space opera featuring characters unknown to even diehard fans called Guardians of The Galaxy. But just as important were the implications to every other movie studio that owned comic book properties, all of them scrambling to create more realized worlds to rival the connective tissue of Marvel Studios as opposed to just a movie starring one character at a time.
Fox effectively meshed its two separate X-Men timelines into one big refreshed (albeit still a bit murky) mutant continuity with 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. All with the help of its original architect, director Bryan Singer, its most consistent character, Hugh Jackman as the ageless Wolverine, and the classic storyline, Days of Future Past. There are now several mutant spin-offs in the works in addition to a proper X-Men sequel, not to mention that Fantastic Four reboot coming out later this year that we still know so little about. DC Comics and Warner Brothers let the recent success of Man of Steel propel them into their own cinematic universe. Which will officially begin in 2016 with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and continue with a massive slate of solo and team up films featuring iconic DC characters scheduled up until 2020.
Sony however, responded to the accolades of the Avengers in very bold way. Its original plans for the Amazing Spider-Man series were amplified from a trilogy to a quadrilogy that would feature “Venom” and the “Sinister Six” while setting up OsCorp as the evil glue that keeps Spider-Man on his toes while he continues uncovering his parent’s mysterious past ties to Norman Osbourne. Declaring that their goal for “Amazing Spider-Man 2” was a billion dollars, Sony quite literally bet the house on their prized horse and the return was abysmal. Ending up with $691 million at box office sounds like striking gold but not when you put it up against the stiff competition of its contemporaries. Out performed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($714 million), Guardians of the Galaxy ($774 million), and X-Men: Days of Future Past ($748 million), Spidey unfortunately ended up in last place this summer. That combined with a reported production budget that totaled an upwards of $200 million and a huge (yet poor) marketing campaign equals the lowest grossing, least profitable Spider-Man film of all time.
The quality of the film was maligned by critics and fans alike. Citing fault with the confusing editing which drastically jumps around and kills the narrative, overcrowding of characters, and attempts at world-building as opposed to focusing on the winning aspects of the film that will get swept over in retrospect. It is strange isn’t it?
Shining qualities like Marc Webb’s vastly improved direction in the action sequences to Garfield’s quippy confidence in the (gorgeous) red & suit and his vulnerability without the mask should result in a home run, but it simply did not. Various different plots, such as Harry Osbourne and Electro’s story arcs are cut short while the character of Mary Jane and the revelation that Richard Parker is still alive were filmed but cut completely from the film in post-production.
All in all, the film simply left a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth. Something that isn’t so bad that it can be easily dismissed like Green Lantern or The Last Airbender but something that frustratingly could have been an excellent summer movie if left in the hands of its filmmaker. With all interest of a shared universe set within the Amazing universe evaporating almost immediately, Sony stalled on their production schedule. Then finally after months of speculation, Sony and Marvel Studios announced a partnership that would reboot the character again but within the confines of Marvel’s cinematic universe. Letting him appear onscreen with other superheroes (first, up 2016’s Captain America: Civil War) and star in his own standalone films distributed by Sony and made with the creative input of Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige.
Not much is known about the new solo movie, other than English actor Tom Holland has been cast and it was given a release date of July 28th, 2017.
So even though that feels like forever from now, fans of Spider-Man can sit back and remind themselves that Peter Parker is back home and dream about seeing not just him exchanging quips from Tony Stark or taking order from Steve Rogers, but the Spider-Man experience we got reading those comics or watching those cartoons as a kid.
Erik Fair is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @ErikTreveon